ATLANTA — Although they have a losing record in September heading to the playoffs, the Atlanta Braves showed Tuesday night they haven’t lost their late-game magic.
Andrelton Simmons singled home the winning run in the bottom of the ninth inning, and the Braves defeated the Milwaukee Brewers 3-2 for their 11th walk-off victory at Turner Field.
Justin Upton opened the ninth with a single off reliever Donovan Hand (0-5) and scored on Simmons’ two-out hit, giving the Braves a 24th victory in their final at-bat.
Closer Craig Kimbrel (4-3) got the victory after striking out the side in the ninth inning.
With the win, the East Division-champion Braves retained the best record in the National League despite a 10-12 record in September. The St. Louis Cardinals and the Los Angeles Dodgers also are battling for the home-field advantage in the NL playoffs.
Atlanta’s Freddie Freeman tied the game in the sixth inning with his 106th RBI. His single followed singles by Jason Heyward and Justin Upton off Brewers starter Tyler Thornburg.
Thornburg worked seven innings in the longest of his 10 major league starts. He allowed seven hits and two runs. The rookie right-hander, who came in with a 3-1 record and 1.96 ERA, struck out eight and walked one.
Meanwhile, Freddy Garcia turned in his third strong outing in as many starts for the Braves since being acquired from the Baltimore Orioles in late August. The veteran right-hander allowing six hits and two runs over 6 2/3 innings, striking out seven and walking one.
Jeff Bianchi picked on the first pitch of the fifth inning to give the Brewers a 2-1 lead, sending an off-speed offering from Garcia over the left field fence for his first homer of the season.
In the third, Norichika Aoki doubled and scored on Jonathan Lucroy’s two-out single. The Braves tied it in the fourth, also with two outs, on a single by Freeman and a double by Evan Gattis, who was trapped off second base to end the inning.
NOTES: Potentially lining up for the playoffs, Braves RHP Kris Medlen will start Friday against the Philadelphia Phillies, and he will be followed by LHP Mike Minor and RHP Julio Teheran to close the regular season. … Atlanta RHP David Hale, who struck out nine over five innings in his major league debut against the San Diego Padres on Sept. 13, will start Thursday’s series opener against the Phillies. … Braves 3B Chris Johnson, second in the NL batting race with a .327 average, did not start Tuesday. He was hitless in his previous 10 at-bats. … C Brian McCann returned to the Braves’ lineup after the birth of a daughter Monday. He went 0-for-3 with a walk.